Thursday, 18 January 2018


Past - no longer there.

Future - not here yet.

Tuesday, 16 January 2018


I got thinking about marriage as a whole, as a result of a recent debate about gay marriage and its rights and wrongs.

Acknowledging that there are some married heterosexual couples for whom marriage was a sacrament, and for whom, their sacrament is tarnished by gay marriage, should gay people be apologetic in their approach to the subject, notwithstanding their newly acquired rights?

Moreover, since the rights fought for in gay marriage are almost all realisable only upon divorce, and since divorce is a de facto end to the vows of marriage, shouldn’t anyone seeking those said rights of marriage be denied the right to marry on the grounds that they don’t really mean the permanence of their vows?

I suggested that this could be tested with a scenario based interview test. For example, potential marriage partners could be asked, "would you still want to marry each other if none of the rights of marriage applied?" Those answering yes would be qualified. On the other hand, anyone answering, "what then would be the point?" would simultaneously be disbarred, and demonstrate their evident sanity and good sense.

I encountered a leading divorce lawyer who argued that marriage ought to be a renewable term contract. Although he would say this wouldn't he, there's a lot of sense to it.

I was married once. I don't intend trying it again.

Not that my marriage was always unhappy. But it seems against my life experience to be able to promise to love another forever. That may be the dream of many a couple and the reality of a few, but some 40% marriages end in divorce, so it is patently not universal. I suspect many other marriages endure a misery which would be better resolved by parting.

The real problem I have with it is that I don't know what the future will bring. And that's a good thing in terms of facilitating my living in the here and now. It's a feature of my life I wouldn't want to lose. A great advantage to my mental health. A discipline that guards against the habit of worry.

Marriage is on the decline. That is commonly seen as a decline in society.

I wonder.

Monday, 15 January 2018


When Jed, my youngest son, went to University I packed him off, along with a substantial wedge of cash to pay for his studies, with two practical pieces of advice.

The first was to grow herbs. I backed this with sending him a small garden's worth of growing herbs. Well, to be accurate, a window box full. Unfortunately he neither tended nor used them. Youthful wantonness. I probably would have been no different. But a few herbs added to the humblest of ingredients transform eating. That was my thought.

The second was to go to church. My thinking here was that church is full of charitable old ladies, just waiting to express their charitable instincts by feeding an evidently hungry young man. He need never want for a Sunday lunch again.

It turned out both pieces of advice went unheeded.

Advice does, is my experience.

Which raises the question, what helps?

It's a question with which I have struggled all my professional life, and a lot of my personal life too.

If anyone knows the answer, do advise me.

Not, of course, that I'll listen!


Friends of mine have been expressing online how upset they still are at the Brexit referendum result.

My advice?

Get over it.

This advice, like much advice, has been roundly rejected.

Fair enough. Be unhappy then.

That's the choice.

Stark and simple though it is, we either give an event enduring power over our happiness, or we reclaim our composure by getting over it.

No matter how powerful the event, short of death and extremities of pain perhaps, at a profound level, we control our own responses to it.

Get over it, therefore, is not patronising, but simple good advice for living. Not lacking compassion, but demonstrating it.

I read somewhere "the act of happiness is the most revolutionary." I understand why. No system, no event, no political control, no hierarchy, no boss, no adversity truly makes you unhappy.

Truly you decide for yourself.

Saturday, 13 January 2018



Mr Trump has described the countries from which immigrants come to the USA as"shit holes", it is alleged. Of course, it is alleged by a leading democrat. So one needs to apply a healthy pinch of salt. But we know that Mr Trump has a habit of blurting out politically incorrect epithets. Perhaps there is truth in the allegations.

Here's the thing.

The average American, without a passport, and very likely never to have travelled to these places, probably also holds this preconception. Moreover, the minority of Americans who have visited places like Haiti, Kenya, Nigeria, Libya and so on, may very well hold the same view. Mr Trump has a point.

But the liberal view would be that we can't say that sort of thing. So, as far as neo liberals are concerned, the places aren't shit holes. Or perhaps deep in the truthful recesses of the neo liberal consciousness, is a suspicion that they might actually be shit holes but that it would be improper to admit such a thing.

But if these places aren't shit holes, why do people make such strenuous efforts to leave them? And what moral requirement is there on us, the USA, to embrace them, if shit holes are not what they are fleeing?

And, the killer card - if they aren't shit holes why do they need our aid?

It's just possible that this $37.6 billion may be an unexpected windfall from Mr Trump's candour.

And for a man playing "America First", one which, given the least opportunity, he will grab.

Liberal sensibilities may just hand it to him.

Friday, 12 January 2018



It's a grey day of nothing. And I enter a nothing of note note in this blog. Grey skies, grey air. Not even a sheen on the grass. Two National Speed Limit signs stand as policemen, but the semi fog holds them in discrete surveillance.

A neighbour of mine came. He is an ex policeman. A Chief Inspector, in fact. He's a man who asks the right questions. He suspects I have a background in MI5. This is something I neither confirm nor deny. Each time we meet he tries another gambit to gain an admission from me. Each time, I side step.

A friend of mine sent me some old walking guides to the North York Moors and the Yorkshire Dales and the Vale of York. They smell delightful. Old. Used. Proper.

Coming back from the boat, all my clothes acquire a particular boat smell. Mainly diesel but with damp back notes. It does not entirely disappear with washing them. That pleases me. You can go to Floris in London and have a personal aftershave made. Mine would have quite a lot of boat  about it.

Yesterday I titivated the bathroom ceiling. To get a scraper, and the right paint, I went to a great little independent DIY shop. It smells much like the boat. I give it two years, before online and shed retailing drives it out of business. The shopkeeper was very cheery. But neither of us could remember the name for those wrench, grip things that have a band to grab, for example, oil filters.

I discovered today that Roger Deakin and Martin Sorrell went to the same school, Haberdashers Askes. Both ad men!

George came with the dog. It's a delightful little hound. Very affectionate, very eager to please. Dogs can smell cancer. I didn't know that.

The markets are down. I've lost loads of money. Yet it's amazing how long it takes me to admit responsibility for this myself. Even "the markets are down" is a form of excuse. Anything, anything rather than blame myself. I have taken bad decisions. Repeat after me, Henry. I have taken bad decisions.

Saturday, 21 October 2017


I watched you whistle and call the conversation into shape,
A player, skilled in this art,
Yet the dog went its own way
No matter how frantic your silent calls, gestures -
The real reasons for divorce,
That unsightly spell of penury,
The short stretch, long atoned
The daughter caught with white powder,
The over violent son,
Granddad’s Alzheimers
Your own struggle with depression,
Self harm, anorexia,
All the stinking places you thought you’d fenced off.
But the dog still goes there
Rolling in the mess.
Good to see your abiding faith in dog training.

Good to see we’re all still dogs.


It’s a wise man who knows what is enough.
As when, with mackerel skies
We shortened sail
And, in the lee of the point,
Put over lines of feathers,
As silvery, wispy as the high mares’ tails
And, drifting on the turning tide,
Hit it lucky,
Pulling mackerel out by the dozen,
Murdering them, gutting some,
Cooking fewer,
Eating fewer still,
Giving the rest away on the dock
With a guilty look in our eyes,
And so, remembering another sail,
Another tidal place,
And a prison on that island,
In which hung a sign,
“Take all you want. Eat all you take,”
I institute this as a boat rule
And quietly,
Without hanging a sign,

As a rule for living.

Saturday, 29 July 2017


Two words which in close proximity point to enlightenment?




Thursday, 27 July 2017